Can our cities work for cyclists and motorists?

by Andrew Redman September 23, 2015

Headkayse is all about making cycling safer. We're doing our bit by designing a safer, more comfortable and convenient helmet that better fits into everyday life. Hopefully this will encourage a few more people onto bikes. But it only helps once things are going very wrong and your head is on a trajectory with something hard.

Cycle safety - road accident debris

In an ideal world, we'd be avoiding collisions between motorists and cyclists in the first place. So is it possible that motorists and cyclists could co-exist more safely? There are two main aspects to this - behaviour and road design.

Ultimately it's peoples behaviour and the resulting action that creates accidents. Good behaviour is driven by training, experience, understanding and a willingness to pay attention and look out for each other. I believe as the popularity of cycling has increased, the culture amongst drivers is changing. Perhaps I am imagining it, but recently I've noticed more drivers being considerate and courteous towards me when cycling to or from work. And programs by TfL and lorry operators to train drivers and cyclists about the dangers is helping. There is clear evidence to show that the majority of lorries killing cyclists are the more informally operated "city based" trucks, for example tipper trucks or skip lorries, driven by people with far less training and experience than HGV drivers. So there is hope that training, a shift in the message from the media and general exposure will all help.

But ultimately this will not solve the problem completely. As designers it's far more effective to design out the ability to cause accidents, than it is to tell people not to have accidents. So changes to the road system are vital - and indeed could create a far more positive environment for all city dwellers, whether they are walking, cycling or driving. Places like the Netherlands have achieved both safer and more pleasant city centres through the segregation of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, taking the pressure of co-existing of each. They have pioneered and tested many different schemes, that show what works and what doesn't. Basically they have already solved this problem, and have reaped the benefits in the process, including a fitter, healthier and happier population.

Recently Channel 4's Cycle Show ran an excellent short feature on this very subject, which manages to examine the key issues around safety and show how recent schemes are proving we can achieve better cities for everyone. Definitely worth a watch:

Andrew Redman
Andrew Redman


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